Meet the Board of Directors: Linda Davidson

Linda Davidson Linda Davidson

Board Member since: 2018 

Linda shares about her family’s tradition of service and coming back to her Idaho roots.
Whether it’s supporting our community’s ALICE population or our efforts in the early care and education landscape, Linda believes raising awareness is the first step to improving north Idaho’s outcomes. We’re proud that Linda chooses to #LiveUnited. 

[*The following interview has been edited for clarity and length.] 

What makes you proud to be living in north Idaho? 

My husband and I grew up in Moscow, 80 miles south of Coeur d’Alene. After we graduated from the University of Idaho and Mike completed his PhD at WSU, he accepted a position on the faculty at The University of Tennessee where we both worked for 30 years. We love Tennessee but wanted to be closer to our daughters and family when we retired. We came back home to Idaho and chose Coeur d’Alene for the beautiful environment and small-town feel.  

How did you come to connect with our local United Way?  

I was introduced to the United Way by Wanda Quinn, our Board’s Past President. You can’t be in Coeur d’Alene for more than ten minutes without meeting Wanda Quinn, or Heidi Rogers (Past President of the CDA Chamber of Commerce). 
Once Wanda told me about the ALICE project, she had me, because that is the population with which we come in contact every day. This can include childcare workers, cashiers, servers, and maintenance workers. People who are working hard to support themselves and their families but are often a flat tire or a sick relative away from financial difficulties. The United Way of North Idaho focus on education, financial stability and health is focused and effective in addressing the needs of the most vulnerable in our community. 

Who inspires you in our community? Who are the hand-raisers and game-changers in your life? 

I would have to give my first nod to my parents. I was raised by a mother and father who were always civically engaged, and they raised us by telling us “to whom much is given, much is required.” It was really just a part of my upbringing. Then, I married a man who is very compassionate and spent decades as a volunteer for our girls and their sports activities while he prefers to maintain a low profile he is very supportive of the volunteer work I do. I’ve always lived in a supportive environment, and now our girls are both involved in trying to make their communities better places, too.

Developmental research is showing that our experiences in our earliest years have a fundamental impact on our outcomes later in life. UWNI has been putting its weight behind improving the early care and education landscape of our community.  
Which childhood success projects and partnerships are you most proud of at UWNI? 

As far as the United Way focus, I’m most proud of the fact that the staff at United Way are so well integrated with the people who provide early childhood programs.  Our engaged and connected staff really have their fingers on the pulse of the community. They base their decisions on the science and statistics about what is best for our children.  

What gaps do you still see in ensuring childhood success in our north Idaho community? 

It's difficult for me to say, because although we grew up here, we’ve only been back for four years, and it is difficult to really understand the pulse of the community in that short time. That is one reason I enjoy being on the Board: I get to know and learn from people who are well-connected and have great insight into the needs of our community. 
My biggest concern is what I perceive as a population in the State of Idaho that does not value education as we have in the past. I attended Idaho public schools beginning in the 1960s at a time when Idahoans valued education. That supportive attitude seems to have decreased. We must do whatever we can to educate the public and help people understand the importance of early childhood education. I don’t have the answers, but I do think that educating the public is a good place to start. 

What do you wish more people knew about child development and the importance of positive early childhood experiences? Or, what are you still working to learn and understand? 

I need to learn more about the statistics and facts. My father was a teacher, and later a principal and superintendent. In 1954, he did his doctoral dissertation on the year-round school. He felt that teachers were professionals and needed to be treated as professionals, and children needed to have a more consistent educational experience. Many of my friends are retired primary teachers and I admire how important their work was and how greatly they have impacted so many young lives. 

What does it mean to you to Live United? 

That has such a special meaning in this particular time in our country. Those two words spread across the entire spectrum of life. It’s caring for each other. The motto of the Rotarians is “Service above self.” We need to be thinking of others before we think of ourselves. 

Any last thoughts? 

The members of the UWNI Board are very committed and hands-on. And rarely have I run across a staff that is such a high-impact group of people. Folks who invest their funds in the United Way of North Idaho are making a very wise investment because there’s a very high ROI (return on investment).